Before beginning today's entry, a reminder that the 2012 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tourney gets underway on Monday, and it's time for Team Carole to mobilize. To that end, here's a banner I've created, showing Carole Lombard looking lovely and majestic in a swimsuit, towering over her rivals. If you wish to copy it for your site or to send to friends, by all means do so.
As the subject header implies, today we're examining Carole from the perspective of Feb. 29, leap year's day. At least one leap year baby figured into Lombard's life -- William Wellman, director of "Nothing Sacred." (As we've noted before, he was born on Feb. 29, 1896, and because 1900 did not have a leap year day, as is the case for all years that end in "00" but whose first two digits aren't divisible by four, Wellman didn't celebrate his birthday on its actual anniversary date until he was eight years old.) Here's Wellman giving Carole a shower on the set:
Truth be told, no particularly big events in Carole's life took place on Feb. 29. She sent this letter to a Mr. Richards on Feb. 29, 1932, letting him know that in real life she was not a Lombard, that it was just "the name I have taken for my work":
Four years later, Lombard probably didn't do much of anything on Feb. 29, because she was sidelined with influenza. As the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner put it, she would "be unable to portray her sophisticated self before the camera for at least a week."
One advantage of this downtime is that it enabled the canine around the house to further hone its acting skills. At least that was the word from the San Mateo Times:
Harrison Carroll's syndicated column, shown here in the Tyrone (Pa.) Daily Herald, has several Lombard-related items...such as the fun she, Clark Gable and several others had in disrupting Jock Whitney and Gilbert Roland's tennis match. "There were some funny printed signs, but you'll have to get the details elsewhere, because we simply can't print them," he wrote.
Carroll also reported that Fred MacMurray had stood Lombard up on the set of "Concertina" (the film we now know as "The Princess Comes Across") -- but Carole may well have encouraged him to do it all along in order to help him get a raise in salary.
Finally, the columnist asked her about those Gable rumors, Lombard replied, "I'm too tired. I'm in no mood to tie up with anybody. I've just been through one of those things [presumably Robert Riskin] and I want to play the field for a while. It's more fun." There were no photos of Carole while she was saying this, so we don't know whether her nose grew slightly longer.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported another potential Carole-Coop pairing, and look who was going to write the script for Lombard and Gary Cooper:
The film was made later that year, Clifford Odets indeed co-wrote the script (with Lewis Milestone directing), but instead of Coop and Carole, it was Coop and Carroll...Madeleine Carroll, that is.
Feb. 29, 1940 would be the final leap year day Lombard would experience -- and nearly a year into her marriage to Gable, she kept a relatively low profile. Her films were speaking for her, such as her latest, "Vigil In The Night," which was going to premiere at the Stanley in Chester, Pa.:
The Stanley would be demolished in 1959.
Meanwhile, Carole's previous film, "In Name Only," was still making the rounds in much of the midwest. It was playing the Patee in the university town of Lawrence, Kansas...
...and the Rapids Theater in Rock Rapids, Iowa -- if you found your name on that newspaper page, you won free tickets:
Elsewhere in Iowa, specifically the State Theater in orchestra leader Meredith Willson's hometown of Mason City, fans had a final chance to view the movie that put Carole on the comedic map:
"Twentieth Century," from 1934, was double-billed with Claudette Colbert's "She Married Her Boss" from 1935.
Just adjacent to the State ad was one for the Surf Ballroom in nearby Clear Lake, promoting "sweet swing" bandleader Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights. The Surf, still up today, is now best known as the venue where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (aka "The Big Bopper") gave what would be their final performance as part of a traveling tour. The three decided to hire a plane to the next show; it crashed, and all died, on Feb. 3, 1959.